September 28, 2005 WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today hailed the Senate’s approval of S. 1709, The Gulf Coast Water Infrastructure Emergency Assistance Act of 2005, and S. 1017, Water Resources Research Act Amendments of 2005. “I am very pleased with the strong bipartisan support and the unanimous approval these two important bills received,” Senator Inhofe said. “The Gulf Coast Water Infrastructure Emergency Assistance Act is critical to Katrina recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast and will help ensure that the three states hit the hardest will receive funding for their water projects expeditiously. Our amendments to the Water Resources Research Act will continue the longstanding partnership between federal and non-federal water researchers under the Act and will help those researchers continue their work to address issues of water quality and quantity.” S. 1709, The Gulf Coast Water Infrastructure Emergency Assistance Act of 2005 Ø States currently are unable to forgive the principal on clean water loans. That is, however, possible with regard to drinking water loans. S. 1709 will provide the three states affected by Katrina, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, with that authority. Currently states are only able to fund drinking water projects that appear on their annual intended use plan. The legislation will waive that requirement to ensure drinking water and waste water systems affected by Katrina are immediately eligible for state funds. Finally, many homeowners may have difficulty testing their wells given the number of potential contaminants in the flood waters. With the provisions in this bill, EPA can conduct testing at their request. S. 1017, Water Resources Research Act Amendments of 2005 Ø S. 1017 continues the partnership between the Federal Government and non-Federal water resources researchers, a partnership that is centered at the university community. Specifically, S. 1017 extends the authorization for the State water resources research institutes to provide grants and address water resources management problems, such as the quantity and quality of water supplies, the sources of water contaminants and methods of remediation, and the training of research scientists, engineers and technicians. The Institute-sponsored research funding, authorized by Section 104(b), requires a match of two non-Federal dollars for each Federal dollar. Ø The Interstate Research Grants program, Section 104(g), is reauthorized in this bill. The Interstate Research Grants provide competitive Federal grants focusing on regional and interstate water resources problems beyond those affecting a single State and must be matched by at least one non-Federal dollar to each Federal dollar. By continuing and enhancing these collaborative efforts, the Institutes can better address critical issues on long-term water planning and supply that may exceed the resources of any one State. Ø The authorized funding levels for the Section 104(b) and 104(g) programs in fiscal year 2005 are $12 million and $6 million, respectively. The fiscal year 2005 appropriation for both programs totaled $6.049 million. #####